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Vaccine rollout continues in Buncome as COVID-19 trends improve, county health director reports
Sunday, 28 February 2021 21:01

From Staff Reports


The number of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 per week has decreased significantly in Bncombe County since the beginning of the year and is now 171 per 100,000 per week, Buncombe County Health Director Stacie Saunders said during a weekly community coronavirus update on Feb. 23 in Asheville.

What’s more, Buncombe’s percent positivity also continues to decline and currently is 3.7 percent, Saunders said during a meeting of the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners.

“Hospitalizations in the region continue to decline,” she added.

“There have been 15,120 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Buncombe County since the pandemic’s start,” Saunders noted. “There have been 289 COVID-19-related deaths in our community. 

As for the vaccine rollout, she said. “Since Dec. 22, Buncombe County Health and Human Services has been vaccinating members of our community with help and support from Buncombe County Emergency Services and other partners. To date, BCHHS has administered 25,502 total vaccinations.

“BCHHS is currently vaccinating individuals in Groups 1 and 2 –  healthcare workers and adults 65 and older, respectively. Through BCHHS and private vaccine administration, approximately 12 percent of Buncombe County’s general population has received at least a first dose of the vaccine”

Saunders added, “Beginning this week, the baseline allocation will be 2,340 doses. While this may seem like an increase, it is the same number of vials as the previous three weeks, but is now based on the expectation of six doses per Pfizer vaccine bottle.

“In addition, this week BCHHS will receive 300 additional doses from N.C. Department of Health and Human Services for improving the equitable distribution of vaccine to marginalized populations. This week, BCHHS will partner with Tried Stone Missionary Baptist Church and Western Carolina University to hold a vaccine event to better meet the needs of our historically marginalized populations and provide opportunities for vaccine access that otherwise may be limited for those who qualify in the active phases of adults 65 and older, health care workers and school personnel. Vaccines are available by appointment only.

“If eligible for one of the vaccine groups, individuals can call (828) 250-5000 or visit to get on the waitlist. 

“Buncombe County staff is currently calling individuals between numbers 10,000 and 12,000. Approximately 40,000 individuals remain on the wait list, and they are contacted in the order which they signed up. If individuals need to remove their name from the waitlist, please email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call us at (828) 419-0095 or (828) 250-5000.”

What’s more, Saunders noted, “NC DHHS has county-level vaccination data available on a dashboard available here:

Regarding vaccines for school employees, Saunders said, “Last week, the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners directed BCHHS staff to begin providing vaccines to school employees by diverting one tray of vaccines –  approximately 1,000 doses – from each week’s baseline allocation. Vaccinations for public, private and charter school personnel will occur at the A-B Tech site by appointment.

“By close of business Wednesday (Feb. 24), school administrators will provide BCHHS lists of school staff who have expressed interest in receiving the vaccine. 

“BCHHS schedulers will use those lists to schedule about 1,000 appointments each week for school staff. It will take several weeks to complete the lists. If a school employee misses the deadline to be placed on that list by their school administrator, they will then be directed to the Buncombe County wait list for Group 3, when it opens on March 10 to frontline essential workers.

“MAHEC has received vaccine doses and is partnering with the Buncombe Partnership for Children to identify childcare facility staff eligible for vaccine.”

 As for testing, Saunders said, “BCHHS is no longer offering COVID-19 testing. BCHHS worked with NC DHHS to establish a testing vendor, StarMed, in the county. Visit the Find my Testing Place website or visit to register for drive-through COVID-19 testing at the Buncombe County Sports Park. Individuals who are showing symptoms or believe they have had close contact to COVID-19 should get tested.

“Please continue to practice the 3Ws to stop transmission of COVID-19, even if you’ve received a vaccine. It will take the vaccine and these important preventative measures to get our families back to a sense of normalcy. For more information about COVID-19, vaccine waitlists and COVID testing, go to,” Saunders said, in concluding her weekly update.



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